Wait! It’s Already October?

I’m not sure how it happened, but pumpkins and scarecrows are beginning to appear in stores, on lawns and all over the campground. The evenings are dark and chilly. The early mornings are starlit and downright cold. I stepped out of the camper to walk Gypsy the other morning, saw my breath, and had to break out my hat and gloves. Goodbye, sweet summer.

It happened so quickly. Like Usain Bolt, time seems to be flying by in one rapid-fire blur. One minute we were enjoying September swims, and the next, we were cuddled up, trying to keep warm at fall baseball games. October kind of snuck up on me. Maybe it’s because I have come out of retirement for a short time, to pitch in at my former place of employment. I confess that I had quickly forgotten how precious spare time is when you are working a fulltime schedule. I am thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to be gainfully productive, but I miss my morning crosswords with coffee, long hikes and leisure time.

In truth, I am happy that time is not trudging along. Back in early May, when I knew I would be living in a truck for another full year, I began to despair. A year seemed like such an interminably, long time. It was then that I began to view this trip around the sun as an Advent-ure calendar. A calendar, of which I have already opened over 150 days filled with unforeseen wonders and unexpected twists and turns. And here I am, only seven or eight months from having a solid roof over my head again. I remain optimistic that the construction will be completed on time.

One unexpected twist was learning that my son, who has been writing for the New York Times, would be appearing on live, nationwide television discussing the Adnan Syed case, and Baltimore politics.

You just never know that is going to be behind the door of this Advent-ure calendar!

I’m so proud of his accomplishments.

“Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves,
We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!”
― Humbert Wolfe

I don’t love the short days and the cold nights. I am not a fan of coats and layered clothing. Yet, I love fall covers, and cool air coupled with warm sun. I like harvest moons and migrating geese. I like Ginger Snaps, pumpkin ales, simmering stews and cozy blankets. I also like campers who are in the Halloween spirit.

The remnants of Hurricane Ian welcomed October to the DC area. We had some wet weather and breezy conditions. Foul weather can be arduous in an RV but we are dry and warm. Big Bertha has provided more than adequate shelter. I continue to count our many blessings.

My heart goes out to the victims of this catastrophic storm.

“It must be October, the trees are falling away and showing their true colors.”
― Charmaine J Forde

Holiday season approaches. Stay tuned….

Fall, Football & Fearless Friends

I’m back to work, at least temporarily. I’ve gone from lazy, leisure-filled mornings, sipping coffee and solving word games to 4:30 a.m. wake-up calls and battling the Beltway. Stars illuminate the path for my early morning jaunt with Gypsy, then it is off to the gym for a pre-workday workout. When I-95 is being kind, which is not often, I can get back to Big Bertha by 6:00 p.m. Traffic delays are just a part of the routine. <sigh>

Now that long days and jam-packed weekdays are the norm, I have to pack my weekends with fun, family, friends, frivolity and football. It’s fall, you cannot underplay the football factor. We recently joined our fellow Ravens fans for a successful food drive that was the kick-off to a victory over the New York Jets. Several days later, Gypsy and I wandered over to the University of Maryland and crashed a Terps tailgate party. We were trick-or-treating for free beer and food. It’s not yet October, but we felt the need to practice our begging skills so that we are in top form for Halloween.

“Crazy friends provide for crazy times, and such crazy times we’ve had.”

Neil Young

We’ve all got that friend, that crazy friend who is willing to strap on heavy rappelling gear, climb to the top of a high-rise, and risk life and limb to raise money for a special cause.

Ravens Roost 4, has been fund raising for Special Olympics Maryland for decades. Roost members have been “Freezin’ for a Reason” by jumping into the icy waters of the Cheseapeake Bay for the Polar Bear Plunge, and into the frigid waters of Deep Creek Lake for the Deep Creek Dunk for years and years. These efforts have netted thousands and thousands of dollars, providing Maryland’s special athletes opportunity to develop skills and compete in various athletic endeavors.

The latest fundraiser, OVER THE EDGE, involved rappelling down a 12-story office building.

With great pride, we watched Betty hurl herself down down a windowed, concrete wall. She’s determined and dedicated, with nerves of steel and a whole lot of lunacy. She’s a hero.

It was amazing to watch the Special Olympians cheer her on. There is a genuine gratitude that is reflected upon the faces of those who benefit from these feats of bravery.

Gypsy had an opportunity to shake hands with a few of the athletes and there was a whole lot of mutual love between them.

Monday morning will arrive too quickly. I am off to enjoy one of the last summer-like Sundays of the year with my glorious grandkids. I’ll be streaming football while playing at the campground pool.

Go Ravens! Stay tuned…

Somewhat Stationary and Semi-Retired

After a whirlwind of summer travel, we have temporarily settled down in the Washington, DC area. We are in a campground that is close enough to the kids and grandkids that we can enjoy some much-needed family time before resuming our quest for a quieter, lakefront life. It’s been a long, erratic expedition. Ten months of life in a truck, doing battle with Big Bertha’s list of bugs and breakdowns has been taxing. I feel like Don Quixote, battling windmills, in search of grand adventure. It’s time for a short intermission.

“This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far… “

Joe Darion ~ Man of La Mancha

It certainly is wonderful to be within reach of both family and friends during this hiatus. We’ve been able to enjoy campground activities with the young kids and some Maryland State Fair, horse racing with the old kids. It’s good to be a kid no matter your age!

This temporary hiatus also placed us in commutable distance from our home builder. We spent a day selecting flooring, paint, placement of electrical outlets and materials for kitchens and bathrooms. With limited choices, due to supply chain issues and inflation, some of the selections were a little difficult to make. Yet, we left feeling confident that we made practical, but decent design decisions.

I have champagne tastes but a Budweiser budget. I don’t want to pay for future home upgrades with my retirement funds. Thus, I am back to the grind. I have been very fortunate to have a former employer who has welcomed me back, to fill in when there is a need. I enjoy the work, the challenges, and the camaraderie. I am thrilled and grateful to have this option. It gives me a sense of purpose without the burden of a prolonged commitment. Temporary assignments are perfect for me.

Fall sports will undoubtedly monopolize much of my free time for the next several weeks. I thoroughly enjoy watching my son coach a 12-U baseball team, for which my grandson plays 1st base. Passion for the game must be a part of our DNA. We have a multi-generational love for life on the diamond.

The boys of summer are advancing into Autumn….

Fall is also football season, and a good many of my friends are gridiron groupies. It’s time for the season openers.

Let’s go Ravens. Stay tuned….

Coasting into Summer’s End with a Lifelong Friend

“The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last forever.”

~ E.B. White

I love summer. I love the long days, and the embrace of the sun. I like flip flops and tank tops and sultry, starry nights. I love wading in the warmish water. I love the smell of Coppertone and the songs of the cicadas. George Gershwin had it right, “the livin’ is easy” in summertime. It is why I always slowly, slowly, with a bit of sorrow, surrender to autumn.

We are spending the tail end of August at Lum’s Pond State Park, along the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. I was so delighted that my dear friend (of 48 years…. but who’s counting?) was able to join us for part of the journey. We have been bosom buddies, soul-sisters, for nearly five decades, and have an uncanny ability to simply pick-up where we left off. Even with our incessant chatter, we were able to manage some biking, some hiking, some singing around the campfire, and a few card games. Because we noticed signs of impending autumn all around us, we squeezed as much summer as we could out of each and every day spent together. These are treasured times.

If you have not biked along the C & D Canal, you should add it to your bucket list. It is roughly 15 miles in length, extending from Delaware City, Delaware to Chesapeake City, Maryland. The ride has a few small hills, requiring a gear change or two, but for the most part it is flat and runs alongside a scenic canal. Delaware City has a quaint shopping area and several places to grab some crabs or a cold drink. Truly a must do for any cycling enthusiast or an amateur like me, who rides a Schwinn purchased from Target. I’m neither appropriately equipped, nor particularly skilled, but I make up for it in determination.

We are capitalizing on the recreational opportunities that are available to us at Lum’s Pond. We have biked the park trail, which is roughly 9 miles of varying terrain. There is loose rock, fine gravel, sand, mud, grass and a few interesting roots to navigate through. I am prone to panic and have been known to dismount and walk my bike when the topography gets too tough. Not my husband. He’s still got a bit of youthful, daredevil in him. He is the Evil Knievel of the senior citizen, trail riding circuit, and now he has the bruises to prove it. Public Service Announcement: Wear your helmet. He’s glad he did.

Even Gypsy is getting in on the action. Lum’s has a dog park with an off-leash hiking area that includes a beach. It is the perfect place for dog lovers who want their furry friends to have the freedom to run, swim and socialize.

As the few days left in August dwindle down, we will continue to enjoy this location. The campsite is spacious, the park is enormous, and the area offers much to do. I am not always overjoyed about life in a truck, but I am sincerely grateful for every day that I am surrounded by nature’s abundant riches. Homeless but healthy. It could certainly be worse.

College Park, here we come….

We are eager to spend football season with family and friends in our old stomping grounds. Stay tuned….

Sand, Sun & Family Fun

“You go through life wondering what is it all about but at the end of the day it’s all about family.” 

—Rod Stewart, singer

We have the type of family that is spread out all over the place. Some members are in New England, some are in the Mid-Atlantic, some are in the South, and a couple of us live in a truck, with no real place to call home. In spite of the miles between us, we are determined to remain a cohesive clan. Because life often gets in the way, it appears to be impossible to get ALL of us assembled but we managed to get the majority of our brood in the same place, at the same time, for at least long enough to make a few memories. Those who could not join us, mainly due to work obligations, were sorely missed. We’ll just keep trying to hit that 100% participation mark.

Ocean City, Maryland provided the backdrop for the 2022 reunion. Conditions could not have been better. The sun was abundant and the ocean water was refreshing, not frigid. The waves were calling body surfers and boogie boarders of all ages to jump in and frolic amidst the breakers. Grandparents, parents and kids were all being tossed around in the tide, losing footing and an occasional bathing suit bottom.

We spent time at the beach, in the bay, by the pool, on the boardwalk, at the amusement pier, and at a tiki bar or two. We rafted, swam, rode bikes, played games, drank a few buckets of margaritas, and chatted the days away. Even the time allowed by an extended weekend was insufficient for spending adequate time with everyone.

It seems like just yesterday that my dad hooked up the pop-up trailer to our Chevy, Bel Air station wagon, and took our family to Ocean City for a sabbatical in the sun. I’m not sure how it happened, but now, as a Grandma, I am in the eldest generation of our family. Although not a fan of aging this swiftly, I am exuberant about watching our “kids” branch out, pursue various careers, and have kids of their own. Our family tree continues to spread, and to grow new, sturdy branches.

“Within our family there was no such thing as a person who did not matter. Second cousins thrice removed mattered.”

~Anonymous

How truly joyous it was to see first cousins, and second cousins, meet and interact. It is these precious moments that create memories. It is within these treasured, twinkles of time that lasting bonds will be forged.

Time spent together solidifies the love that we share.

On the lakefront situation….

We are hoping that the 2023 reunion (with 100% participation) will be held at our Lake Anna home. No, the footers have not yet been poured, but we are in the permitting process. We do not have a house. We do not have a boat. We do, however, have a newly completed dock! You have to start somewhere….

Onward to Delaware.

Stay tuned….

Wild, Wonderful West Virginia …and a Curious Campground Culture

My amazing Aunt was a nun in the order of the Sisters of Divine Providence for 80 years. Her recent passing, at the age of 97, was difficult to digest. She was an inspiration to our entire family. She was open, honest, caring, devoted, educated, interesting, loving and admirably feisty. Because I was in Arkansas at the time of her death, I was deeply saddened that I was unable to attend her funeral service.

Our trip back east was supposed to go through southern Kentucky, but due to flooding we were rerouted to an area of West Virginia, in which my dear aunt helped to run a Catholic Mission that was designed to assist the poor of Braxton County, WV. She accepted donations, and taught the residents of “The ‘Holler” to run a thrift store and how to mend, and launder the contributed clothing for resale. She often commented on how rewarding it was to really make a difference by working with the poor of Appalachia.

My husband and I went in search of Saint Michael’s Mission. The edifice remains, but is no longer a functioning mission. I walked down Kanawha Boulevard, entered the grounds of the community park, and planted some flowers in Sister Mary’s honor. I felt her spirit hovering over me as I chatted with an elderly resident who remembered, and reflected upon, the charitable works of my beloved aunt.

Afterwards, we ventured to Bulltown, an historic area near Burnsville Lake, where during the civil war, Union forces were attacked, but refused to surrender, protecting the Gauley Turnpike, an important North-South route in a largely unsettled area. It was here that we learned about Confederate General “Mudwall” Jackson, cousin to a much more famous Stonewall Jackson. I guess every family has its black sheep.

The area is resplendent with dazzling, mountainous terrain but the region is also quite quirky! Small-scale Sutton, WV boasts both a Big Foot Museum and an exhibit dedicated to the Flatwoods Monster; an entity sighted in Braxton county, after the appearance of a UFO in the early 1950’s. West Virginia: Wild, Wonderful and Whimsical!

Next stop: the happy hills of Hancock, MD. Normally, this is part of our “fly-over-zone” as we zip between Deep Creek Lake and the Baltimore area. Not, this time.

The Hancock area provides easy access to the Western Maryland Rail Trail. We rode our bikes out of the campground, down the rocky, ATV trail, to the paved rail trail. To be a bit more factual, my husband rode to the path, he has the spirit of a mountain biker. I walked my bike, like an octogenarian with a two-wheeled walker, at an outdoor assisted living facility. I had a bike accident once, and I carry a PTSD neurosis with me when it comes to bicycle riding in rough, terrain with loose rock. In other words, I’m a huge chicken, a big baby. I still want to ride my bike, but only in ideal conditions. This trail was pretty perfect, as I managed to complete the 30-mile trek. I was grateful, however, for my cheap, Walmart, bike helmet when we rode past the FALLING ROCK, slide areas of the trail.

We rewarded ourselves with a filling lunch at Buddy Lou’s (extremely dog friendly) Restaurant after completing our ride. This eatery is a gem! I would purposely pull off of I-70, just to go there again. There are offerings of unique flatbreads, craft beers, ice cream, and boozy milkshakes. Novel statuary, which can be purchased, adorns the entire space.

As for the curious campground culture… We actually, had a nice, pull-through site, but noted that the roads could use come loving care. The RV rocked as we navigated through ruts, potholes and craters. The campground catered more to residents with permanent sites, who spent much of their time simply riding around, all day, drinking beer on golf carts and ATVs. I’m easily amused, but I found this peculiar parade to be laugh-out-loud humorous.

Now preparing to go “Downy Oshun” for my husband’s family reunion in Ocean City.

There will be tales to tell. Stay tuned…

Big Bertha and the Bad, Bad Barrel

Due to the catastrophic flooding in Southeastern Kentucky, we had to alter out original plans, and took a more northern route across the Bluegrass State. Although route 64 remains high and dry, a great deal of it is under construction. It can be unnerving to pilot the RV down long stretches of one lane highway that is lined with both traffic cones and concrete barrier walls. It is particularly harrowing when the truck in front of you keeps brushing against the orange barrels.

We were in the homestretch, preparing to exit the construction zone, when the 18-wheeler who had been brushing the barriers, decided to sideswipe one of those bright, orange cylinders, throwing it directly into our path. Yep, all that orange came flying at us, like a kid projectile vomiting circus peanuts. There was no time to react, to brake, to safely swerve. I simply had to plow into it. That is when Bertha met the barrel. Of course the mangled mess was dragging beneath the undercarriage, and we had to pull off onto a narrow shoulder. We were at the end of miles and miles of roadwork. Both lanes had just opened up. Naturally the vehicles behind us were flying down the hill like roller coaster cars at Disney’s Expedition Everest. Did that stop my lunatic husband venturing out onto the highway to wrench the gnarled glob of orange plastic from under Bertha? Of course not. I’m not sure how I kept from wetting my pants as I watched him (successfully, thank God) dislodge the wreckage, but I definitely needed a defibrillator to restart my heart afterwards.

The RV bumper is a bit broken and the fog light is beyond repair. All things considered we fared well.

Upon entering the Twin Knobs Campground in the Daniel Boone National Forest, we were alerted to the presence of active bear in the area.

Funny, an encounter with Baloo or Yogi seemed tame compared to that brush with a barrel.

Although Northeastern Kentucky did not experience the utter devastation that was felt further south in Knott County, there was still evidence of the recent, relentless drenching. Even the lakes are spilling over their banks. Roads and sidewalks are swallowed up and waterfront trails are washed away.

On a bright note, our campsite was extremely spacious and dry. In spite of a forecast for storms in the area, we had rain-free conditions. Hopefully, that trend will continue and the water will recede.

We managed a walk through the town of Morehead, home to Morehead State University. We visited the Kentucky Folk Art Center, which displays the works of self-taught, Appalachian artists. The whimsical work of wood carver and illustrator, Minnie Adkins was featured.

You can take a walking tour of historic Morehead, which includes a railroad museum and moonlight school. The moonlight schools addressed a need to teach literacy to individuals who could not attend school during daylight hours due to the long working hours required in the labor-intensive jobs that defined the impoverished area.

And now, time for some Zen moments in the pollinator’s paradise of the Daniel Boone National Forest, before we hit the road again.

Here we come, Braxton County, WV….

Stay tuned.

Lusting for the Lakefront Life

We want to live on a lake. That is why we started this convoluted, continual camping trip! This deranged desire has caused us to do some fairly idiotic things, like selling a perfectly wonderful home and moving into a truck. We’ve been vagabonds for nine months. There have been countless sacrifices made to obtain this dream. Above all, I miss being in regular, close proximity to my family. I also, wholeheartedly, miss my washer and dryer. I never thought I would find myself yearning for major appliances, but I want my Whirlpool!!!!

I digress. Despite mourning my Maytag, we are still lusting after the lakefront life. So, we have been practicing, planting ourselves on some rather remarkable RV sites in Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky.

Lake Charles State Park in Powhatan, Arkansas has a great number of lakefront sites. In fact, it is hard to find a site that does not include, at a minimum, a scenic lake view.

The park offers hiking, but mid-summer must be spider season in Northeast Arkansas. We trudged through web, after sticky web, emerging from the trail looking like an episode of The Munsters, with tangles of spun silk haphazardly hanging from our hiking togs. Looking at each other, we made an enlightened, unanimous decision to find a less arachnid-filled activity.

If it were not for the unique opportunity to observe turtles mating, which isn’t easy with all of that shell getting in the way, this walk through the woods may have been a total bust.

After washing off the webs, we headed to the nearby town of Pocahontas for a little urban hiking. Urban is a bit of a stretch, but it is a quaint town with some interesting history.

It was here that CSA Brigadier General Jeff Thompson, known as “The Missouri Swamp Fox”, who led raids all over the swamps of Northeast Arkansas, was captured by the Union Army at the St. Charles Hotel on August 22, 1863.

Henry Morton Stanley, of “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” fame, joined the 6th Arkansas Infantry Regiment in Pocahontas. After being taken prisoner following the Battle of Shiloh, he joined the Union Army.

Pocahontas is also the type of small town that still has a pay phone, and a number of charming shoppes, including one that bears the name of our Gypsy Girl.

After leaving Pocahontas, we walked through the Davidsonville Historic Park. Davidsonville, which was on the frontier in the early 1800’s, was founded by some businessmen who hoped to find wealth in land speculation. It was Arkansas’ 1st county seat, but its existence was short lived, lasting only from 1815 until 1830. Transportation in and out was difficult, and the Black River could not be contained, causing ceaseless flooding conditions.

We trekked onward to Tennessee, where we found a fabulous site at Natchez Trace State Park. This ten-acre park has 208 campsites, cabins, a lodge, and an Inn and Conference Center. There are over 23 miles of hiking trails and it is home to FOUR lakes. If it were not for the complete lack of cell service, this may have been my favorite campsite of all times. No cell service is a deal-breaker. I got a quick “ring” one night, and recognized it was the ringtone for my son. I, being an anxious (meaning nervous wreck) mom & grandma, jumped out of bed in my pajamas. I drove the truck several miles, sans license, until I had enough Verizon signal to make a call. It turns out that my son merely butt-dialed me. Sigh.

While in the Jackson, Tennessee area, we ventured to Parker’s Crossroads, a Civil War battlefield on which infamous Confederate, General Nathan B. Forrest, utilized some unorthodox strategies to thwart a Union attack and to evade capture.

On December 10, 2021, a six-mile wide tornado passed through Natchez Trace State Park. It caused heavy damage to roughly 1,400 acres of forest land. The land is still being cleared of this debris.

At Lake Nolin, near Leitchfield, Kentucky, we again found ourselves in a lovely lakeside sight. We did have to make a supply run, but have still found time to enjoy some floating around and a Scrabble Game or two. It is also noteworthy that Gypsy, who is not yet 1-1/2 years old, has now peed in 33 states.

Due to the unprecedented flooding in Eastern Kentucky, we have had to re-route a portion of our trip. Our hearts go out to all families that have been impacted by this relentless deluge.

On to West Virginia and Virginia, and finally back home for a brief stint.

Stay tuned.

Family Fun and a Diving Dog

“Love your family. Spend time, be kind & serve one another. Make no room for regrets. Tomorrow is not promised & today is short.”

Unknown

Nothing is better than when family members are true friends. Time spent together is precious and there never seems to be enough of it. Thankfully, our traveling lifestyle enables us to visit more frequently and make memories that will last a lifetime.

A few short hours after arriving in Arkansas, we grilled some burgers, threw on our swimsuits, packed a beverage cooler, and headed out to Beaver Lake for an evening of boating. My brother-in-law, an excellent captain, made this excursion possible. The ambient air was warm and muggy but the clear, calm lake water was cooling and restorative.

Gypsy had been on a kayak when she was 3-months-old, and had been on a small rowboat, with an outboard motor, when she was 5-months-old, but had never been on a powerboat. We weren’t certain that she would readily adapt. Initially, she balked at the idea of boarding. We had to lift her into the boat as she continued to protest with sad eyes and flailing paws. Yet, once we began to move, her anxiety dissipated. Her ears were happily flapping in the breeze as we sped towards a swimming hole. It would be an understatement to say that we worried unnecessarily. It turns out that we have a dog that was born to dive, a pooch that loves to paddle.

Gypsy was not the only one enjoying watersports. The old man had to get in on the action, too. My husband frequently sells himself short, claiming to have been born without any talent. Now, it is true that he has something of a tin ear, and without question, entered this world with two left feet and no semblance of rhythm. Yet, the dude CAN water ski. He’s good at it! Slalom skiiing is his thing. The single ski, deep water start was no problem even with a shortened tow rope.

No, he is not a song and dance man but he’s got a real aptitude for water and wake.

We celebrated my birthday with an 8-mile hike at War Eagle Canyon, which is along Beaver Lake in Rogers, AR. The valley views were spectacular. The gorge offered lots of elevation change and glimpses of colorful rock formations. I happily trudged along knowing I had to burn a few calories, as we had plans for Mexican food and Margaritas later in the day.

There was some much needed rain that pelted the area, so not all of our activities revolved around the great outdoors. We tried our hands at Top Golf, which turned out to be a whole lot of fun! You grab a club, say a quick prayer, and aim for a target that is situated in the driving range. Please note that I was in first place during the practice round. That situation rapidly changed when the real game began!

Our overly generous hosts took us to Bentonville (home of Walmart) to witness the tremendous growth of the community, and to visit some of the trendy, new structures. We toured The Momentary, which once was a Kraft cheese plant, and is now both an Art Gallery and Music Venue. The top floor currently looks out over tower cranes and construction, but will soon provide a panorama of a vibrant, expansive neighborhood.

After a Saturday morning yoga class, a nice walk in the woods, and a visit to the Ozark Beer Company, we settled down to listen to some real jazz at the Downtown Rogers concert venue. I’m not sure when it was that we last packed so much stuff, or so many calories, into such a short time frame. What a whirlwind!

Gypsy did manage to chew a yoga mat to bits when we left her for a short time. Thankfully my brother-in-law has a high tolerance for mischievous mutts. Other than that unfortunate incident, it was an ideal time spent with loved ones.

Time to move on. We will have to re-route our journey back east, as the horrific flooding in Kentucky has impacted our original itinerary. Off to Lake Charles, near Jonesboro…

Stay tuned…

The Scorching Southern Plains

“It ain’t the heat, it’s the humility.”

Yogi Berra

After leaving the refreshing Rockies, we headed South to Trinidad Lake in Southeastern Colorado. We descended into desert-like conditions. It was hot. I don’t mean warm, I mean fires-of-hell hot. I’m a fan of summer. I don’t easily wilt, even in the dog days, but I confess, the relentless warmth was outrageously oppressive. We had several days of 100+ temperature readings with nary a raindrop in sight.

If we intended to hike, we had to get going in the early morning, which we did, because, despite the cauldron we were in, the scenery was spectacular. Trinidad Lake State Park covers a large area, providing canyon hikes and lakeside activities. It has a true Southwestern flair, feeling a bit more like New Mexico than Colorado.

Then, on to Elkhart, Kansas where the blast furnace ambiance continued. We found ourselves in yet, another RV parking lot; this time, behind the town car wash. Yeah, we keep it classy.

Fortunately, the paved patch of ground that we were parked on was close to the Cimarron National Grasslands. We jumped in the truck to take a self-guided tour. It turns out that self guided was misguided. We managed to find ourselves hopelessly lost somewhere in between the Wildlife Viewing Area and Prairie Dog Town. We retraced our steps, turned around a few times, headed down a dirt road, and had to put the truck into four-wheel-drive to plow through the sandy mess that we managed to get ourselves into. We did find artesian wells, and oil wells, but never quite made it to the scenic overlook or the Santa Fe trail.

“Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain

And the wavin’ wheat can sure smell sweet…”

…You’re doin’ fine, Oklahoma!

Oklahoma O.K.”

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II

After departing Kansas, we drove through a whole lot of Oklahoma. There is seemingly endless, brown, thirsty-looking acreage in the Sooner State. I’m not sure how we lucked into a campsite along the Great Salt Flats, that included a water view, and rugged hills. This part of Oklahoma, which is surprisingly scenic, was covered by ocean during prehistoric times, thus the high salinity in the area.

Pretty? Yes, but it was still hotter than a forest fire outside, with temperatures in the 108F range. At least we could wade in the water. Granted, the water was slightly short of scalding, but it was cooler than the sun-saturated sand. Focus on the positive.

With Big Bertha on her best behavior, we are eager to head to Arkansas, to hang out with family and make a few memories.

Stay tuned…